From amputee to super hero - Open bionics unveil Star Wars, Marvel and Disney themed prosthetics for kids

Issue date: 09 October 2015

Open Bionics, the company based in the Technology Business Incubator at Bristol Robotics Laboratory has announced the next generation of bionic hands for young amputees that feature Disney themes.

The first three designs include an Iron Man bionic hand that lets a child pretend he is the inventor Tony Stark, a Frozen-themed sparkly blue and white hand and a Star Wars lightsabre limb.

Joel Gibbard, Director and Bionic hand designer says, "The designs mean that children can now get excited about their prosthetics. They're not just getting medical devices; they're getting bionic hands inspired by their favourite characters. The Walt Disney Company is generously donating the time of its creative teams and providing royalty free licenses so there will be more designs coming soon.

"From the Marvel Universe, hot out of Tony Stark's workshop, we have the Iron Man hand with artwork designed in collaboration with Lucasfilm's ILMxLAB; taking their inspiration from Lightsabres, there is the Star Wars Lightsabre hand and inspired by Queen Elsa from Disney's Frozen, the Snowflake hand."

Earlier this year Open Bionics won a place on the Disney Accelerator 2015 programme powered by Techstars, considered to be one of the best start-up accelerators in the world.

The designs were revealed this week during the Disney Accelerator Demo Day. Powered by Techstars, the Disney Accelerator program provides funding and resources to technology innovators. During the three-month program, entrepreneurs are provided with $120,000 in capital and receive mentorship from Disney's executive leadership.

At the end of the program, participants then present their inventions and services to a group of investors, fellow entrepreneurs, industry leaders and Disney executives in an annual Demo Day event.

The Walt Disney Company is consulting on the project and providing a royalty-free license to Open Bionics, allowing them to use the company's popular assets –like characters from the movie Frozen– in their limb design.

This allowed Open Bionics to design its prosthetics without having to pay additional fees for its child-friendly designs. Also providing their expertise were Industrial Light & Magic's xLAB division and Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Open Bionics used the program to develop its affordable 3D-printed hands that will turn an amputee into a superhero.

Open Bionics, is a startup based at the Technology Business Incubator a visionary pilot program to stimulate and support technology start-ups. Working with undergraduate, graduate, post-graduates, staff and partner spinout businesses the incubator provides the BRL with up-to-date and detailed understanding of technology start-up needs and enhances the BRL's creative and entrepreneurial culture. It provides valuable input to courses, research and research exploitation.

Bristol Robotics Laboratory is the most comprehensive academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK. It is a collaborative partnership between the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and the University of Bristol, and home to a vibrant community of over 150 academics, researchers and industry practitioners.

For all the latest information from Open Bionics, visit - or follow them on Twitter @openbionics.

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